Monday, June 20, 2016

The Fingerprint Project

When I was a little girl, I was extremely protected in the best way possible. Today's society would call it sheltered. The world would call me spoiled. And you can call me whatever you want, but the truth is simple: I was so incredibly fortunate to have parents who loved me completely, wholly, and thoroughly. If there was a way to get me what I wanted for Christmas, I would have it. If there was a way to take me on that dream vacation, we would go. I suppose it would look spoiled to those who were not quite as lucky, but at its core, I was spoiled because my parents believed I was worth the effort, and they wanted me to believe it, too.

Let's stop right there and be clear. I was not taught to be entitled. I was not taught to be a brat. Quite the opposite, actually. I was taught manners through quiet humility and the occasional swift swing of the wooden spoon. But they didn't want me to grow up believing I wasn't worth any effort. I was not to bend my standards or act to please others. I was not to be trampled. My values were important. My thoughts were listened to. My dreams were to be supported, my body was to be respected, and my heart was to be cherished.

It's no secret that today's little girls and young women struggle with body positivity and self love, and I am no exception. As much as I would love to say my parents' efforts have saved me from all insecurity, I've had my fair share of struggle. In fact, my struggles are on opposite extremes of the spectrum. Sometimes, I feel as though I am so physically inadequate. Other times, I feel as though I'm nothing more than a pretty face because I was reminded I was beautiful every day when I wasn't always reminded of other things.

The bottom line is... There's just no way to win in this world. If you're given too much, you're spoiled. If you're not given enough, you're "less fortunate." If you're not reminded that you're a stunning, aesthetically pleasing creation of God, you forget; and if you are reminded, you begin to believe that "pretty" is all you'll ever be. If you believe you're beautiful, you're conceited, and if you don't believe you're beautiful, you're insecure. You're too much: too emotional, too needy, and too opinionated; or you're not enough: not thin enough, not smart enough, and not talented enough.

The only way to completely win is to accept everything you are and everything you're not, and then go ahead and love yourself anyway.

It's okay to accept yourself. It's okay to think you're smart. It's okay to love your body. And it is not wrong to count all the reasons you love yourself on one hand before you list all the things you hate about yourself.

And while you're listing those reasons, take a look at your fingerprint. It's easy to forget how special it is because everybody has ten of them, but take a second to look at it. The lines, the swirls, the circles, the curves, the miscellaneous lines that seem to not belong... That fingerprint is yours, and there's not another one like it in the whole world. There never has been, and never will be, another you.

My mother would remind me of that every day, and I never forgot it because the metaphor was always right at the end of my fingertips. I was unique, and it followed me around all day long. I was so undoubtedly special that it was imprinted on my body like a birthmark from God.

We celebrated my mom's birthday this past Friday, along with Father's Day this past Sunday, and my parents received a portrait sized poem that I wrote outlining my own personal fingerprint. Gasps escaped from my parents. Many tears were fought back. Suddenly, the most important lesson they had preached for the past twenty years was sitting in front of them, completed.

When I saw their reactions, I had to share. I so wish I had documented this process so I could share it with the world! But don't worry, it's super easy, and you can make as many adaptations as you want.

Press your thumb to an ink pad, or paint one fingertip with craft paint. Press the print to a small piece of paper or post-it note. If you can see the lines fairly clearly in the print, allow it to dry. If not, try again!

I brought my post-it note to school with me! When the kiddos left for the day, I threw my post-it note under the overhead projector and taped a piece of card stock on the board. I resized the image to fit perfectly on the card stock and traced the projected image onto the 8x10 card stock.

Not a teacher? No sweat! Before I had the idea to use the classroom projector, I simply planned to photograph the post-it fingerprint (just with my phone, nothing fancy...) and upload it to the computer. From there, I would resize it to fit an 8x10 piece of paper in Microsoft Word and print off the image on the card stock.

From there...
I laid a regular piece of computer paper over the card stock, aiming two fluorescent lamps at the paper to backlight the card stock. You could see the fingerprint right through the paper!

I wrote the poem following the lines from the card stock. Not a poet? Once sweat. It would be just as sentimental with a personal note, a memory from childhood, or a story the gift recipient never stops telling about you. Even writing out basic descriptors about yourself is enough to put your uniqueness onto paper.

Finishing Touches. 
It was important to me to keep it black and white, more like an actual fingerprint. I only used one other color to trace a line that seemed so out of place it looked as though it was an accident. That random line would hold the most important line of all, the last thing my mom would say to me every night before I fell asleep: I love you to the moon and back. 

Of course I still struggle with self love. I wouldn't have an entire blog centered around it if I didn't. The beauty distortion present in social media, advertisements, and an objectified society has taken its toll on me, but my mother's efforts were certainly not wasted. In a world where girls are constantly told they are not enough, I had an ever-present reminder that my creator's intricate design was printed boldly on the body my soul lived inside of. And it's printed on your body, too.

You were constructed by the fingerprints of God. Don't forget that, Princess.

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